Today, more than ever, consumers are demanding more from the companies they interact with on a regular basis. While companies scurry to implement machine learning and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and bots to deliver answers to basic questions, there is no question that, when human interaction is desired - expectations of the consumer have been raised to new levels. When an interaction arrives to a contact center agent, it is OK to authenticate and validate, but it is no longer tolerable to ask the mundane questions to identify the caller, ask intent for their inquiry, and ultimately divert to an alternate resource who can serve their needs - this leads to customer frustration and an inferior impression of the serving company. Fair or not - it's the fast-changing world we now live in.
For repeat customers who regularly interact with your company - there is no excuse for not being able to know their identity, derive intent for their outreach, understand their value to the organization, and optimally deliver them to a knowledgeable resource to solve their problem. These have been fundamental building blocks of most contact centers for decades through leveraging of technologies from Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and knowledge databases, bringing the power of Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to solve these challenges for Voice interactions.
In our evolving and expanding channels of interaction, we now face an elevated expectation - to perform these same fundamentals, yet doing so quickly and accurately regardless of the channel of inquiry, and leveraging far more data to empower the agent to deliver a world-class interaction. This critical information must be gathered about the inquiring consumer themselves, and also about their preferences and history of all previous interactions, also known as customer journey mapping. Industry analyst firm Aragon Research, supports the notion that at the core of a great customer experience is the customer journey, as such it's imperative to create customer journey maps. By compiling these customer journey maps of the past, along with the status of the current customer journey underway, we now must apply analytics with real-time decision-making, in order to deliver on the heightened expectations of our new world consumer. Imagine a world where we as consumers arrive to an agent who already knows who we are, where we have been, how we prefer to be dealt with, and how to best solve our problem - Now that's customer service, and it may not be as far off as you think.
Enterprises are racing to deliver this new paradigm of customer support. Technology providers are racing to deliver them the end-to-end solutions which require in-depth integrations between intelligent data collection solutions (IVR, Web, NLP); historical customer data (CRM, customer journeys, Big Data); and the Intelligent Routing Engines, so that customer interactions can live up to the new and improved customer expectations, case in point is the new Salesforce Service Cloud. Due to the complexities of accomplishing this customer support holy-grail, companies are at various stages of delivering on this promise. Don't be surprised next time you struggle on a website and call into an agent, only to find out they know precisely what you've been doing on the website. It will no-doubt be interesting to watch the next decade as the customer experience evolves and these innovations become the new normal of what we come to expect.
Dan Burkland is EVP of Global Sales and Services at Five9, and has been in the contact center, customer experience space for over 25 years